Violence Within State Borders: Serbia

This report is the product of the Border Violence Monitoring Networkʼs (BVMN) efforts to document violence occurring against people-on-the-move (herein POM) within the borders of countries along the Balkan Route. In addition to identifying cross- border pushbacks, BVMN collects evidence of physical, material, and structural violence against POM within Serbia. The quantitative and
qualitative data included in this report was collected via questionnaire from volunteers who interacted daily with POM in cities such as Belgrade, Subotica, Majdan and Šid. Additionally, information was drawn from the testimonies of POM and from the observations of long-term volunteers and activists, which collectively illustrate the complex factors influencing the well-being of POM in Serbia.

Through analysis of data collected in the field, the first section of this report will discuss acts of physical violence against POM. The second will examine violence inflicted by law enforcement officers and members of extremist right-wing political groups, while the third will report instances of structural violence, a term that refers to the development or perpetuation of inequality by social institutions or processes. Specific examples of structural violence reported by POM and the organizations which support them include restricted access to asylum, collective expulsions, evictions, harassment, and criminalization of solidarity.

Feedback to the Update of the European Union Maritime Security Strategy (EUMSS)

The Border Violence Monitoring Network welcomes the call for evidence for the 2014 European Union Maritime Security Strategy (EUMSS) and its revised Action Plan (2018) as a possibility to contribute to the safety at sea through pointing at current lacks in compliance with UN, EU and national law and offering recommendations for the implementation of such within the newly formulated strategy.

With this submission, BVMN aims to contribute to the Maritime Security Strategy, drawing particular attention to severe violations of international law concerning people in distress at sea. BVMN will especially focus on the mounting securitization efforts through the increasing employment of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), as well as a strengthening of border surveillance strategies to the detriment of Search and Rescue. Finally, we are formulating recommendations on how the significant gap between international Human Rights legislation and its implementation through national and European actors can be reduced and the compliance with international law at Europe’s external border assured within the updated Maritime Security Strategy. Even though the expertise of BVMN lays on pushback incidents in the Aegean Sea, the following submission will also cover some developments in the Mediterranean Sea. Through that, we aim to point to the overall importance of a comprehensive and reliable implementation of international law at sea within renewed Maritime Security frameworks.

URGENT UPDATE: Briefing on the continuous violations of the rule of law in Greece as people still stranded on islet in Evros

On the 27th July, BVMN published a briefing which detailed an update on the situation at the Evros border, specifically regarding pushbacks in the month of July. At the time of writing, one emerging case was detailed which involved a large transit group who had been stranded on an islet for over ten days, despite being granted interim measures.

The following briefing provides an update on the critical situation for the same transit group who have been stranded on an islet in the Evros river and violently pushed back and forth between Greece and Turkey over a period of three weeks. Despite the ECtHR indicating a Rule 39 measure mandating the Greek state to carry out search and rescue operations, as well as provide medical support, access to Greek territory and food and water, the group remains on the islet today in a severely deteriorating condition. Alarmingly, the transit group reported that a young 5-year-old girl died in the early hours of 9th August 2022, as well as a 9-year-old girl being in urgent need of medical care. BVMN joins the Greek Council of Refugees and Human Rights 360 to urgently call upon the Greek authorities to carry out search and rescue and provide the transit group access to their fundamental rights. The briefing further makes recommendations to the European Commission to hold Greece accountable for such violations.

Call for Volunteers

open call

BVMN is looking for two volunteers to join the UN Advocacy Team and support the Advocacy Coordinators and wider Network in advancing its strategic goals. This role provides a high degree of autonomy with the ability to help shape key advocacy outputs and therefore would suit a candidate who is driven and self-motivated. The United Nations advocacy team plays a key part in BVMN’s multi-targeted approach to advocacy. Our team works to bring evidence of mass human rights violations to relevant UN fora, hold governments accountable, and establish pushbacks and the rights of refugees and migrants as an international priority.

The deadline for applications is the July 20th, 2022 (midnight CET). We aim to review and respond to all applicants by July 25th. We look forward to hearing from you!

key tasks
  • Assist with the production and coordination of evidentiary submission to United Nations Treaty Bodies, Special Rapporteurs or other International Human Rights Bodies.
  • Draft speeches, briefs or reports to be used during UN forums and events.
  • Participate in meetings and develop institutional relations with Ambassadors, representatives from Permanent Missions and UN Treaty Bodies’ Committee members.
  • Develop agenda setting campaigns to help shape international priorities.
  • Horizon scan for new advocacy opportunities.
Personal requirements
  • Be able to work independently and commit to at least 3 months.
  • Demonstrable interest in human rights, migration, refugees or the United Nations.
  • Previous experience working on international advocacy is desired but not essential for the role.
  • Able to commit to a weekly coordination meeting held in the evening over zoom.
  • Align with the anti-fascist, anti-racist values of the network and strive to work in a collective dynamic.
What we offer
  • The chance to join an international and highly motivated team.
  • The ability to see the direct impact of your advocacy work in international human rights bodies and policies.
  • You will be seen as a full member of the team.
  • As a registered non-profit association we can issue you an appreciative internship certificate and recommendation letters (upon request).
About us

The Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) is an independent network of NGOs and associations mainly based in the Balkan regions, Greece and Turkey, that monitors human rights violations at the external borders of the European Union and advocates to stop the violence exerted against people-on-the-move.

Letter of Concern to Frontex over Fundamental Rights Violations in Evros

Today, the Border Violence Monitoring Network shares a letter of concern it sent to Frontex, regarding illegal pushbacks at the Greek-Turkish border and the recent publication of new evidence of Greek authorities coercing asylum seekers into pushing other transit groups back to Turkey by Lighthouse Reports, Le Monde, der Spiegel, the Guardian, and other media outlets. 

Over the last two years, the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) has submitted to Frontex an abundance of evidence of pushbacks, loss of life, and practices amounting to torture and inhuman and degrading treatment perpetrated at the Evros land border which is also Frontex operational area. New trends of abandoning people stranded on islets in the river as well as refusing to comply with interim measures issued by the European Court of Human Rights shows consistent disregard for the rule of law by the Greek state. Recent visual investigations from Lighthouse Reports, der Spiegel, le Monde and other media outlets confirm our documentation of people on the move being coerced by the Greek police to push people back.

On this basis, we call on Frontex should trigger Article 46 of the European Border and Coast Guard Regulation (EU) 2019/1896 and, effective immediately, terminate operations in Greece.